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to think our council extending free school meals for ALL primary children is fine, but not the requirement to provide them with masses of personal data in exchange?

(11 Posts)
norflondoner Thu 12-Nov-09 11:26:53

Our local council has decided to extend free school meals to all primary pupils but in order to get them you have to fill in a form giving the following details for BOTH parents:
date of birth
National Insurance number
income levels etc

...and then you have to hand the form into the school, so its not even sent directly to the council for inputting securely.

WTF? You also have to sign that all data is correct and that it can be used for other council purposes. And, if you don't fill in the form, you won't get the free school meals and have to continue to pay...

There's no way I want the council to have all my personal data on their databases and have no confidence in it being kept secure - but on the other hand, as I'll be paying for the school meals through council tax, I don't want to have to pay twice.

AIBU?

madamearcati Thu 12-Nov-09 11:29:31

Well I think under the data protection act they are not allowed to ask for data that is not pertinent.I think they are trying to gauge how many children were entitled before and whether they were taking up the option or not.

madamearcati Thu 12-Nov-09 11:31:17

Sorry hit the button too soon

A lot of that info is clearly not relevant and I think you should put this concern in writing to the council and also your local councillor

SongOfThePEACHY Thu 12-Nov-09 11:32:20

Ir probably is to estimate previous take up,and also how effectively the free schoolmeal systems targets te poor (not very, we don't qualify whilst others on mroe income do)

However, I would probably be as happy about school in aprticular having access to that info as you.

norflondoner Thu 12-Nov-09 11:32:20

I think you are right re trying to copmare numbers before and after, but they could just ask you if you are on benefits, low income etc. Why do they need our NI numbers and dates of birth etc?

MillyMollyMoo Thu 12-Nov-09 11:48:51

Maybe to check you have the right to be in the country in the first place ?

norflondoner Thu 12-Nov-09 12:04:22

and to help the benefits fraud officers in doing their job.

Can see lots of other councils watching with interest...and rolling out in the coming months hmm

slug Thu 12-Nov-09 12:40:54

According to the data protection act the data has to be

Fairly and lawfully processed
Processed for limited purposes
Adequate, relevant and not excessive
Accurate and up to date
Not kept for longer than is necessary
Processed in line with your rights
Secure
Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

This is the checklist those collecting data need to consider:

Do I really need this information about an individual? Do I know what I'm going to use it for?
Do the people whose information I hold know that I've got it, and are they likely to understand what it will be used for?
If I'm asked to pass on personal information, would the people about whom I hold information expect me to do this?
Am I satisfied the information is being held securely, whether it's on paper or on computer? And what about my website? Is it secure?
Is access to personal information limited to those with a strict need to know?
Am I sure the personal information is accurate and up to date?
Do I delete or destroy personal information as soon as I have no more need for it?
Have I trained my staff in their duties and responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, and are they putting them into practice?
Do I need to notify the Information Commissioner and if so is my notification up to date?

I think you could argue that this practises breaches the Data Protection Act in several respects i.e.

Adequate, relevant and not excessive (why do they need income levels and NI?)

Processed in line with your rights
Secure (no evidence of either of these, especially the security issue)

These questions appear not to have been answered either:
Do I really need this information about an individual? Do I know what I'm going to use it for?
Do the people whose information I hold know that I've got it, and are they likely to understand what it will be used for?(Clearly not)
Is access to personal information limited to those with a strict need to know? (clearly not)

The collection of the data also does not fall, as far as I can see, within the list of exemptions as here If it was me, I would be writing a strongly worded letter to the council (how middle calss am I?) asking why it is necessary to collect that information. Can they justify it under the DPA? Can they assure you of it's security? I'd also be doing a bit of campaigning around the school. Not because I'm a troublemaker you understand (heaven forbid, I'm too middle class for that wink) but because I've suffered two thefts of my personal information because of breaches of security in the last few months.

madamearcati Thu 12-Nov-09 13:10:00

As I've said before, do you know who your county councillor is? My experience is that they take a lot of notice of them.I would go via him/her

Vallhala Thu 12-Nov-09 13:26:43

I'd take great pleasure in writing all manner of nonsense on the form and then sit back, wait for them to threaten legal action IF they found out and then call the press.

Doubtless you're far less stroppy about this invasion of privacy than I so perhaps a less militant approach might be to email your local newspapers' editors informing them of the peculiar demands of your council.

norflondoner Thu 12-Nov-09 15:45:03

This is all very helpful - thanks v much.
No idea who my councillor is but I will find out. I am not a militant but I will be following up!

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